Celebrations tinged with sadness as Big Tom sculpture is unveiled
The son of the late country singer Big Tom McBride has praised a new statue of him as a "fitting tribute".
President Michael D Higgins unveiled the monument to Big Tom in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, yesterday.
Big Tom died in April, aged 81, as the statue and a festival in his honour were in the process of being planned.
The entertainer's son, Thomas, described the unveiling of the bronze statue of his father as a celebratory moment, tinged with sadness.
More than 1,000 fans travelled from across Ireland and further afield for the event. There were cheers as Mr Higgins unveiled the statue, before a rush of fans eager to see it up close and get their photo taken with it.
Thomas said his family were devastated his mother Rose, who also died earlier this year, as well as his father were not there to see it.
"This day is a very proud day for the McBride family, celebratory yet tinted with sadness, for they have departed, mum and dad.
"We are devastated that mum and dad aren't here today, I know they would have loved it."
Big Tom and the Mainliners were formed in the 1960s. Henry McMahon, another member of the Mainliners, also described it as a day tinged with sadness.
"It's a wonderful day, tinged with sadness, but it's no less than Big Tom deserves, he was an icon, and still is an icon," he said.
Music fan Myles Kavanagh had travelled from Kilkenny and dressed as Elvis for the occasion. "It's magnificent," he said of the sculpture.
"I may be the king of rock 'n' roll but he was the king of country, we'll always have Big Tom in our memories."